18 February 2009

Temple Design: a concept

This will be the first of ongoing posts over the next who-knows-how-long tracking through the concept development of my design for an LDS Temple – at least what a Temple represents to me and the approach I would take if ever given the opportunity. I welcome any and all critique – what you like and what you don’t like. Feel free to be honest. Believe me, after going through architecture school, I can take any criticism. I do not work in the Temple department, so this is nothing official; just my own design study exploration, because of my interest in it.

For me the Temple experience is really all about the representation of a journey; a journey of knowledge, discovery, and ultimately one of finding God. In many cases the journey is a hard, ugly, and trying struggle. Other times it is beautiful. I am reminded of the quote by Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a syndicated columnist out of Tulsa, Oklahoma stating that most of life is dull and mundane, with occasional vistas and spectacular views. “Life is like an old-time rail journey--delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.” (source) I think any representation of our journey through life should reflect this.

Progress in this journey is marked by knowledge gained, covenants made, and ordinances received. Movement, progression, and struggle are appropriate adjectives. Through whatever we may pass, there is a constant in life that leads us through the darkness.

Initially at least, I am looking at two concepts as a starting point to inform me of the form and organization of the Temple:

  • A forest as a means to find God – with obvious reference to the First Vision
  • A tent in the wilderness as a means to find God – with obvious reference to the Children of Israel

To be clear, I am principally looking at these concepts to help guide the form of the building, not the decoration of the building. In other words, the shaping of space will be guided by these images and concepts, rather than simply using them as a decorative motif.

Precedent images shown in this post that I am currently looking at:
  • Giovanni Battista Piranesi - sketches of the Prisons (Carceri d’invenzione or Prisons of Imagination)
  • Tents/Tepees
  • Forests/Tree houses

The next step is the hard step - applying all these ideas and information to an actual sketch or small study model that will become the basis for the building. I will post these as soon as they are ready.

Source of images shown:


Lady Steed said...


I think your concepts are sound. I do prefer the forest motif, likely because that's more closely connected to my own life, but I think the tents have potential as well. Just don't make it look like a yurt.

I do want to point out that the rail-journey quote came through President Hinckley. He didn't make it up himself.

Th. said...


Sorry --- that was me.

green mormon architect said...

No, it won't look like a yurt...

thanks for the quote correction, I made the change in the post.

John Kendall said...

I have always loved Piranesi etchings. Any building inspired by those would be awesome. Even though they're technically prisons.

Me, Myself and I said...


green mormon architect said...

Isn’t it amazing that prisons could be so beautiful? It reminds me of the photographer Branislav Kropilak who takes pictures of mundane things like parking garages and billboards. And his images are GORGEOUS. Here is his site: http://www.kropilak.com/?go=billboards

Reuben said...

I'd like to see a treehouse temple.

L-d Sus said...

When you get commissioned to design your Temple, think of me first when selecting your structural consultant. I have always wanted to work on a building in which the owner was super-serious about durability.

Can get fit a "home" vibe into your forest or tent concept?

Sweet Em said...

You must - MUST - include the iconic Thorncrown Chapel by Fay Jones in your precedent study.

green mormon architect said...

Thanks for your vote - although I am still undecided if I want to put the Temple up in the trees, or just among the trees...I think there are pros and cons to each.

If by home vibe, you mean some intimate spaces, then I like that thought. I think the personal approach towards finding God in the Temple lends itself to some very personal and intimate spaces. With technology, it is conceivably possible to not even have large meeting spaces, but I think a few are warranted for the feeling of community and gathering together.

Sweet Em,
Fabulous suggestion - very applicable here and I agree completely. That is one of my favorites and somehow it slipped my mind.

yuma said...

However the temple may look,but we shall create an ambiance that it would bring in ourselves the humility, the humbleness and the feeling that 'there is someone who would take care of us...'.